What are the steps to configure a Synology DS220+ for Plex Media Server with 4K streaming?

12 June 2024

In today's digital age, having a reliable media server is more than a luxury—it's a necessity. For those seeking to elevate their home entertainment experience, the Synology DS220+ is a powerhouse NAS server that, when combined with Plex, can serve as the ultimate media server. This guide will walk you through the steps to configure a Synology DS220+ for Plex Media Server, ensuring seamless 4K streaming.

Why Choose Synology DS220+ for Plex Media Server?

When it comes to media storage and streaming, the Synology DS220+ stands out for its robust features and user-friendly interface. Powered by an Intel Celeron processor and the user-friendly DSM (DiskStation Manager) operating system, this NAS offers the performance and reliability needed for high-quality video playback. With dual drive bays, you can house multiple hard drives, providing ample space for your media library.

The DS220+ supports network streaming and offers USB port options, making it versatile for various storage and connectivity needs. Whether you're streaming movies, TV shows, or music, this NAS ensures your media is always accessible and transcoding capabilities ensure that even 4K streams run smoothly. The joined forces of Synology's hardware and Plex Media Server software create a seamless entertainment system.

Preparing Your Synology DS220+ for Setup

Before diving into the configuration process, there are essential preparations to make. Ensure you have all the necessary hardware and software components ready.

Hardware Requirements

  1. Synology DS220+ NAS: This is your primary server.
  2. Hard Drives: Choose high-capacity drives compatible with your NAS. Popular options include Western Digital Red or Seagate IronWolf, known for their reliability in NAS environments.
  3. Network Connection: A stable and fast internet connection is crucial. Aim for at least 50 Mbps for smooth 4K streaming.
  4. Ethernet Cable: Connect your NAS to your router for stable network communication.
  5. USB Drive: Optional, for backup or additional media storage.

DiskStation Manager (DSM) Installation

  1. Insert Hard Drives: Slide your hard drives into the drive bays of the DS220+.
  2. Power On: Connect the NAS to power and turn it on.
  3. Network Connection: Use an Ethernet cable to connect the NAS to your router.
  4. Access DSM: Open a web browser on a computer connected to the same network and go to http://find.synology.com. This will locate your NAS.
  5. Install DSM: Follow the on-screen instructions to install the DiskStation Manager operating system.

Initial Configuration

  1. Create Admin Account: Set up an admin account for system management.
  2. Configure Storage Pool: Use the Storage Manager in DSM to create a storage pool and volume. This step is crucial for organizing your media files.
  3. Enable Network Services: Ensure that network services like SMB and NFS are enabled for seamless media sharing.

Installing and Setting Up Plex Media Server

With your Synology DS220+ in place and DSM installed, the next step is to set up Plex Media Server.

Download and Install Plex on DSM

  1. Open Package Center: In DSM, go to Package Center.
  2. Search for Plex: Type "Plex" in the search bar.
  3. Install: Click on the Plex Media Server package and follow the installation process.

Configure Plex Media Server

  1. Initial Setup: After installation, open Plex Media Server through DSM.
  2. Sign In: Log in with your Plex account. If you don't have one, create a new account.
  3. Server Name: Name your Plex server. This will help you identify it among other devices on your network.
  4. Media Libraries: Set up media libraries by adding folders from your Synology NAS. Organize them into categories like Movies, TV Shows, Music, and Photos.
  5. Scan for Content: Plex will scan the added folders and index your media files.

Optimize for 4K Streaming

  1. Transcoding Settings: Go to Plex settings and adjust transcoding options. Ensure hardware acceleration is enabled, leveraging the Intel Celeron processor for better performance.
  2. Quality Settings: Adjust streaming quality settings to ensure smooth playback. For 4K streaming, ensure your network can handle the high bitrate.
  3. Remote Access: Enable remote access if you plan to stream content outside your home network.

Ensuring Smooth Performance and Maintenance

Configuring a NAS drive for Plex is more than a one-time setup. Regular maintenance and performance tweaks are necessary to keep your media server running smoothly.

Regular Updates

  1. DSM Updates: Keep the DiskStation Manager updated to the latest version. Synology frequently releases updates that improve system performance and security.
  2. Plex Updates: Ensure Plex Media Server is always up to date. New versions often include performance enhancements and bug fixes.

Storage Management

  1. Disk Health Monitoring: Regularly check the health of your hard drives using DSM's built-in tools. This helps in predicting and preventing potential drive failures.
  2. Storage Optimization: Periodically clear out unnecessary files and optimize the storage pool to maintain efficient space usage.

Network Optimization

  1. Network Speed: Ensure your network speed is adequate for 4K streaming. If you experience buffering, consider upgrading your internet plan or using wired connections instead of Wi-Fi.
  2. Router Settings: Optimize your router settings for the best streaming performance. Prioritize your NAS server in the Quality of Service (QoS) settings.

Backup and Security

  1. Regular Backups: Use external USB drives or cloud services to back up your media library. This ensures you don't lose content in case of hardware failure.
  2. Security Measures: Enable firewalls and other security measures to protect your NAS from unauthorized access.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Even with the best setup, you might encounter some issues. Here are common problems and their solutions.

Buffering and Playback Issues

  1. Check Network Speed: Ensure your network speed meets the requirements for 4K streaming.
  2. Transcoding Settings: Lower the quality settings or enable hardware transcoding if you face buffering issues.

Connectivity Problems

  1. Network Configuration: Ensure your NAS is properly connected to the network. Check the Ethernet cable and router settings.
  2. Port Forwarding: For remote access issues, ensure ports used by Plex are properly forwarded in your router settings.

Storage Issues

  1. Insufficient Space: Regularly monitor and manage your storage space. Delete unnecessary files and organize your media library.
  2. Drive Failures: If a drive fails, replace it promptly and restore the data from backups.

Configuring a Synology DS220+ for Plex Media Server with 4K streaming involves meticulous preparation, installation, and ongoing maintenance. By following the steps outlined above, you can create a seamless and robust media server that caters to all your entertainment needs. From initial setup to optimizing for performance and troubleshooting common issues, each step ensures that your NAS server operates efficiently and reliably. Embrace the power of Synology and Plex to transform your home entertainment experience, making it more enjoyable and hassle-free.

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